Black History Today: Mike Bethea, a leader of men on and off the court

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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“I came to coach basketball players, and you became students. l came to teach boys, and you became men.”- Coach Ken Carter


As a society, we have become fascinated by sports as entertainment. Particularly in the black community, while cliched, sports is often seen as a way to create a better opportunity for your family and community. They say sports sells either success or hope, yet for those who have participated, you know that sports are so much more. It is real-time feedback that teaches, success, failure, progress, and teamwork.

To be a coach is to be a steward of all of those values and maybe more importantly to embody those values. The ultimate job of a coach is to be a leader of men/women and there may be no greater example of that in the country than Coach Mike Bethea. Coach Mike has been an institution as the head coach of the nationally known Rainier Beach Viking High School Boys Basketball team since 1994 when this writer was a freshman in Highschool.

There have been many articles written about Coach Mike, many laments his success as a head coach, winning eight state championships (1998, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016) and runner up (2001, 2004, 2015, 2017, 2018). As of this writing, Rainier Beach is back in the state Semifinals looking for State Title number 9.

While Rainier Beach High school is known for its sports, what’s little known about the school and its alumni is its commitment to the community, especially for those whom others didn’t believe in or give a chance. If the building of Rainier Beach is the body than the community is the heart and Coach Mike Bethea is the soul.

The high profile lives he’s affected get plenty of attention, yet what people don’t see is his commitment to the troubled youngster who needs basketball, not for a scholarship or even to display their talent, but because they need a safe space to be and positive peers to be around. While many watch Basketball to see the players' positions 1-8, play close attention to the players 9-12 (sometimes 13/14) and the young JV/Freshman players, the ones who need to be on the RBV basketball team may be more than the team needs them.

Coach Mike’s commitment to his team is just like a father would his family, if you attend an RB Basketball game, it’s more akin to a family reunion than it is a sporting event, his impact ranges from making sure his players get home all the way to make sure they have a home to stay in, period.

Coach Mike is as committed to his team as he is his family, a proud husband, prouder father of three adult children, Dion, Deedee and Angie who are all successful in their own right and now all coach on some level, paying forward what’s been paid to them. His heart is probably best on display as a grandfather of his six grandchildren (with two more on the way).

Coach Mike’s success pales in comparison to his true impact off of the court, he has truly impacted the lives of an entire community, seen and unseen. Whenever he decides to hang up his clipboard and polo/suit jacket, they will need to rename the gymnasium the Mike Bethea Complex because it is truly, the house he has helped build. Mike Bethea is the definition of a legend, the leader of men and a glowing centerpiece in the Crown Jewel of the Southend. Coach Mike Bethea is indeed, Black History, today!


Upendo!

-MLH



Black History Today: Rashad Norris, more than meets the eye...

Black History Today: Rashad Norris, more than meets the eye...

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Marcus Harrison Green, voice for the Southend

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed."


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By Marcus Harden

In an era in which truth is under attack for what is comfortable, authenticity is sometimes seen as weakness, and recollection of the facts as heralded as “fake news.” Those that still want to stand for what is true, what is authentic and what is good are in great number, yet often lack the platform — and sometimes the courage — to stand in those values.

Marcus Harrison-Green has embodied and championed those values for the last few years. Born in the legendary Southend of Seattle, Marcus (what a glorious first name) attended private schools — often as the ‘only’ Black student — and upon graduation from high school he attended California Lutheran University.

While at CLU Marcus experienced what many do when they “get out” and find themselves in predominantly dominated culture spaces. He was the token Black student in a place he says believed in “Reagan, Money and God...in that order.”  Upon graduating Marcus walked down the path many are told to travel: get a good job, stash your money and live happily ever after.

However, Marcus’ happily and ever-after weren’t connected to working in a small investment firm, having a nice house and driving a nice car. His happily-ever-after was connected to writing — specifically telling the stories of the communities and the people who often hadn’t had their stories told properly.

Marcus made one of the most courageous and impactful decisions of his life when he walked away from it all, packed his life up and moved back in with his parents to begin the journey of writing about others’ journeys while living his own. In 2014 Marcus founded the South Seattle Emerald, to explore the lives and stories that were true to the people he knew and interacted with everyday, behind the headline sensationalism that often depicts Southeast Seattle.

Since that time Marcus has helped steward the Emerald to be a viable source for reliable storytelling and news in Seattle. In 2018, Marcus took that experience with him to the Seattle Times to promote that same voice and energy of the Southend to the greater Seattle region.

Marcus’ greatest story, though, may he his own, opening up about his battles with mental health, self love and self worth. The courageous nature of a man who shares others’ stories of triumph and trial with the world, openly sharing his own, true leadership and truly newsworthy.

Marcus has had an odyssey that has taken him on a journey of self-discovery and examination that have led to his gifts manifesting in service of his community. Lois Lane once said about her famous reporter friend Clark Kent, “That's the thing about heroes. No matter how brightly you shine the light on them, they always want to stay in the shadows."

Marcus Harrison-Green is a hero who prefers the shadows, but deserves the spotlight. He is a voice for the voiceless, for the community in the community, and that among many reasons is why Marcus Harrison-Green is Black History, today!


To learn more about Marcus:  https://www.seattletimes.com/author/marcus-green/






Upendo!

-MLH

Black History Today: Cal Bonner, a true artist blazing his own trail

Black History Today: Cal Bonner, a true artist blazing his own trail

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Justin Cheadle, lifting others up to change their lives

Black History Today: Justin Cheadle, lifting others up to change their lives

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Adrienne Decuire-Packard, purveyor of family, advocacy and justice

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
-Michelle Obama


By Marcus Harden

If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, there were varying images of who Black people were and how they lived. We could be movin’ on up, or busy pitying the fool or maybe even asking, “Did I do that?”

However, one of the aspirational staples of a young childhood in that era was seeing the image of a Black doctor and a Black lawyer having functional, everyday-life conversations and promoting Black excellence. Claire Huxtable served as an image for many to aspire to.

While Claire inspired a generation, we needed real examples in our lives to truly know what could be possible in a field that many times doesn’t look like it’s meant to serve us. Adrienne Decuire-Packard is that reality of Black excellence — a fictional image come to life.

Born and raised in Seattle to a large biological and extended family, Adrienne is a proud alumnus of Garfield High School and the University of Washington, and her passion for justice is evident upon meeting her.

Adrienne is the personification of passion and joy, and it was her passion that pushed her across the country to pursue her dream of becoming an attorney at the prestigious Howard University School of Law. Through trials and triumph of charting unknown territory, Adrienne graduated and passed the bar, along the way finding time for love with her supportive husband, Darryl.

Her passion would then spread to different cities, Boston and Chicago, where Adrienne would serve as a voice for the voiceless in civil rights matters as a staff attorney for the American Bar Association. Eventually she married her gifts of advocacy and education together, becoming the Associate Director of Student Affairs at the University of Chicago Law School — in service of all students, yet fiercely creating pipelines for women and students of color.

For Adrienne, the adage “You can’t go home again” doesn’t apply, as in 2015 she was offered to return to her second home — the Mecca, Howard University School of Law — as the Director of Student Affairs, utilizing her passion to fulfill her purpose of servant leadership, shining as a realistic example for others to see and be.

Adrienne's passion for the profession and for creating pathways within it are only exceeded by her passion for her family. As a loving daughter, inspired little sister and proud big sister, the art of love was shown to her at an early age. She manifests that art as a powerful wife and loving mother to her three incredible children.

Because of women like Adrienne, we don’t need made-for-TV accounts of powerful Black women living fully in spaces that we once never saw and thought possible. Her advocacy to help shape and create better environments and opportunities for Black women is inspiring, and her ability to balance those as a 3D model for living life's purpose and passion is astonishing.

If the scale of justice is the pursuit of a perfect balance between love and advocacy, then Adrienne pushes those scales to change the world for the better days, which is why Adrienne Decuire-Packard is Black History, today!

To learn more about Adrienne’s work: http://law.howard.edu/

Upendo!

-MLH




Black History Today: Lull Mengesha, inspiring innovator and influencer

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
-Will Smith


Living life fearlessly and authentically are values often espoused but rarely actualized. Not because people don’t have the desire or the skill, but oftentimes because we’ve rarely paid attention to the people who have done it. To live absent of fear is almost impossible, yet to choose to live a life allowing your fears to fuel your passions and doing it in a way that inspires to do so as well — that’s authentic living!

Lull Mengesha lives authentically and fearlessly! Born to immigrant parents in Seattle, raised in the glorious South End, proud alumni of Rainier Beach High School and later the University of Washington, Lull has never been afraid to embrace thinking and being different. Lull began to discover his fearlessness as an undergrad at the UW, beginning to openly challenge his own thinking and the shortcomings of systems, specifically for African-American people and people from the African diaspora.

Lull’s strength coming in his nature to engage others across difference in those conversations, questioning not only the systems of oppression but people who have been oppressed themselves, realizing early that the breaking down of one requires the empowerment of the other.

In 2009, Lull penned his first book, The Only Black Student,” exploring life as a Black student navigating the public education space in a majority Black school, and then learning how to navigate life and academics at a college that was predominantly white. Fearless in his honesty and introspection, Lull used his life to create an actionable workbook for others to follow.

Lull’s greatest attribute may indeed lay in his fearlessness to just be. Whether gracing the stage at a local comedy shop, writing a screenplay, hosting a vegan Eritrean food talent showcase, exploring and bringing new technology and thought products to market, or just Snap-chatting his Uber driver journey to a $39 Spirit Airlines flight to parts unknown, Lull’s commitment to truly LIVING inspires others to do the same.

At his best, Lull brings the environment of authentic thought, fearless living everywhere he goes, and through his constant joy pushes others to the possibility of the same for themselves. He is unafraid to challenge the status quo because he is unafraid to challenge himself. He’s a son who honors his mother, cherishes his sister and truly is a friend to all.

Lull gives of his time, talent and treasure in ways seen and unseen. Fear looks Lull in the face and lowers its gaze because it knows as we all do now that Lull Mengesha is indeed Black History, today!

To learn more about Lull: https://www.amazon.com/Only-Black-Student-Lull-Mengesha/dp/0578023091

Upendo!

-MLH



Black History Today: Tia, Shadeed & Khalil, a reflection of of a mothers love in her suns.

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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How beautiful if nothing more

Than to wait at Zion's door

I've never been in love like this before

Now let me pray to keep you from

The perils that will surely come

See life for you my prince has just begun

And I thank you for choosing me

To come through unto life to be

A beautiful reflection of his grace

For I know that a gift so great

Is only one god could create

And I'm reminded every time I see your face

Lauryn Hill, To Zion

By: Marcus Harden

As parents, you realize there is no handbook on raising YOUR children. Parenting is a collection of wisdom, acquired knowledge, intuition and when done right, unwavering and unconditional love. While the stereotype of single parenting in the African-American/Black community is a bit overhyped (shout out to the awesome families and fathers out there!), the reality is being a parent without the full benefit of a partner is hard.

The reflection of that hard work often times lays in the countless seconds, hours and days that go into the full-time job of parenting. Yet as that reflection becomes clearer, the greatness of that hard work begins to shine.

Tia Shabazz and her two reflections of greatness, Shadeed and Khalil resonate that light. Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s about the pursuit of a perfected love that manifests in your children but first manifest within you.

A Seattle native, Tia’s love for herself manifest in her everyday pursuit of authentically being better for her family. As a young single mother early in her journey, fighting through those stereotypical stereotypes to lean on her family but most importantly herself and her faith, she walks the journey of parenting for and with her sons.

Her commitment to them no more evident than knowing at any and every event, ceremony and academic endeavor possible, she would be there. The manifestation of her motherly love was in being there for her sons, she became a mother for others sons (and daughters).

Her energy manifested in her oldest son Shadeed, light, and personality so immense that he truly radiates through any room he enters. Whether it be his unique voice, his infectious smile, his loyal heart or the perpetual motion (with or without music) he manifest that portion of her reflection.

Shadeed a proud member of many championship basketball teams at the world-renowned Rainier Beach International Baccalaureate High School (aka Crown Jewel of the Southend, the Hall of Fame on Henderson, etc).

Shadeed brings that energy with him in his constant pursuit of bettering himself, now in his third year of college still pursuing his dreams yet also beginning to reflect deeply on his passions and sharing that with others, not perfect yet in pursuit of purpose.

The other shard of light from a mother peaceful and introspective, reflection in Khalil, currently a sophomore attending the University of San Francisco. Utilizing his talent as a basketball player to pursue passion and purpose as well (also an alumnus of RBHS), Khalil’s greatest attribute is in his quiet resolve and his acceptance to the call of servant leadership.

In a world filled with young people who spend time yelling “look at me”, Khalil while rarely raising his voice is always yelling, “no, look at you!”. The consummate teammate and supporter, on and off any court he steps on.

Inspiring in an age of reality family drama is the two brothers genuine love and admiration for each other. Not a trace of jealousy or envy, even though their personalities and paths may differ, they stay connected through unashamed support, admiration, and love for the other. They find themselves in each other, the definition of the old parable;

“ I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.”

The true beauty of this family is the embodiment of their love together. Tia doesn’t shy away from her sons being her world and in return, they orbit around her emanating light of two stars shining brightly. Maybe, the most inspiring of their family growth was as Tia preached and practiced the value of education to her sons, her pursuit of more education for herself, enrolling in and completing college and further education alongside them.

Tia, Shadeed & Khalil are representations of what parenting and family are, growing and learning together, always together. They are what is possible for any young family, a single-parent family who wonders can they do it, the Shabazz families answers, yes you can.

It won’t be easy, there will be tears, disappointment, doubt, and heartache. Yet greater than all of those will be love and joy. Living testaments to how it can be done. Tia, Shadeed, and Khalil are pieces of living testimony of what’s possible, one mother and two bright and shining suns, they are joy, they are peace, they are love and they are Black History, today!

To support and learn more about the Shabazz family: https://www.facebook.com/mamateescakesandpies and thelifeofiball on Instagram

Upendo!

-MLH


Black History Today: Kevin & Melissa Fredericks, models of authentic and sweet love

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Sweet love hear me callin' out your name

I feel no shame; I'm in love

Sweet love, don't you ever go away

It'll always be this way

There's no stronger love in this world, Oh, baby, no

You're my man; I'm your girl

I'll never go. Wait and see, can't be wrong

Don't you know this is where you belong?

How sweet this dream, how lovely, baby

Stay right here, never fear

I will be all that you need

Never leave, 'cause baby, I believe

In this love

Sweet love hear me callin' out your name

I feel no shame; I'm in love

Sweet love, don't you ever go away

It'll always be this way - Anita Baker

It has been said  that love is patient, love is kind and love endures all things. Love as a notion of sentimentality, romance, raw emotion and fluttering social media filters is indeed a real thing. Yet a real love is the love that explores itself, that opens itself to examination, questioning and sometimes doubt. Yet those who are able to embody love, those who are able to take the sour of the love that isn’t expressed in greeting cards and make it so, so sweet, those people are what love is all about.

Kevin & Melissa Fredericks in an age in which love, often times young love and even more times young black love are under attack, they stand steadfast as a testament to what it is in the swipe left era and display their love with a vulnerability and authenticity into their sacred union that is admirable far beyond any fictional doctor or lawyer on Nick at Nite.

Their testimony and evolution of a young love since High School, that has endured all things such as two incredible sons, corporate careers, relocation and daring greatly to chase their dreams, being bold enough together, always together to catch them, is astounding.

Kevin ever the dreamer, reimagining what it means to be a ‘provider’, the provision sometimes being that of traditional finance, yet other times being the keeper of the dream knowing that a life lived unfilled is not a life lived at all. While Melissa, not Kevin’s completion, but his balance and partner, provided the encouragement, the ‘traditional’ providing and serving as the ember that kept the Fredericks family flame burning.

Their journey together as a couple, who have grown individually to build their collective love stands as a true model for those looking to know what love is. The true beauty of their union is they never purport to be the perfect couple, they share their journey to and through love and if others can find a connection, then job well done.

Their love radiates through their two sons, who thrive in their own ways, having the safety in love to continue to grow into young men who will know how to love on the Philo, eros and agape level because love was not only mentioned but modeled. They continue to grow as a family unit and everything they encounter becomes love as well because true love never constricts, it only expands and the Fredericks grow in love by the day.

While commercially many will celebrate this day with cards, dinners, and words of affection, the Fredericks show us all that every day is a day to show and grow in love. If they had a soundtrack (mainly Melissa’s, Kevin only listens to old hymnals), it’d sing the song of Anita Baker, “We love so strong and so unselfishly, And I tell you now that I made a vow, I'm giving you the best that I got, baby Yes I tell you now, that I made a vow,I'm giving you the best that I got”.

Auntie Oprah may have hosted life classes, Melissa & Kevin host love classes and we’re all better for being their classmates. They continue to model the healthy way of being caught up in the rapture of love, is, giving us the best that they’ve got, loving each other just because and for those reasons, Kevin & Melissa Fredericks are Black History, today!

To learn more about The Fredericks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-love-hour/id1445509054?mt=2

Upendo!

-MLH




Black History Today: Eniyah, a portrait of triumph and courage

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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“I’m grateful I had the strength to fight. It takes courage to believe the best is yet to come, especially when you are flat on your back and don’t know if you’re going to see tomorrow. I’m no Pollyanna, but I believe optimism is a choice — a muscle that gets stronger with use. Right foot, left foot…just keep moving.” ― Robin Roberts

You only learn who you are inside when life gives you a test. When those tests happen, we are faced with the choices to run and or to fight. Yet many are faced with the test that is life, itself. The passing of the test much like the best things in life, don’t lay in the end result, yet in the day to day process of fighting, winning and overcoming. The victory comes through the courage and summoning the constant courage is the victory.

Eniyah has lived her young life has stood victorious and is the illustration of courage. For many of us, the innocent moments of childhood aren’t ones that as adults we champion as a victory. Childhood is typically spent filled with discovery, play, and innocence. Yet for Eniyah, her journey into Kindergarten began with the discovery of cancer. For many, the notion of cancer rocks us to our cores as adults, it threatens how we live and life itself, yet as a five-year-old still learning the world cancer robs one of that innocence and forces you to find an act of deeper courage than the classroom of life has yet to prepare you for.

Yet, fear trembles when faced with unwavering faith and courage. With the support of a rocksteady mother, loving father, incredible medical team and love and support from a community known and unknown, Eniyah waged war against cancer for three years from 2016-2019. Through chemotherapy, through missing a year of school and battling back to re-enroll, still as brilliant as ever.

Eniyah would not let cancer steal her life, most importantly, she didn’t let it steal her joy. Her innocence would not be eroded, her faith would not waiver and her victory was a matter of when not if. We often pray that many don’t experience such a battle, ever, in their lives and especially before the age of 10. Yet, Eniyahs strength has never lived in her sickness, it laid in her strength to show others what is possible to show that who we are coming from something deep inside of us, long before we even know what that thing is.

Stuart Scott famously stated, “Every day, I am reminded that our life’s journey is really about the people who touch us.” In January of 2019, Eniyah and her family celebrated the culmination of her three-year odyssey to officially become cancer free! As a child, she’s been asked to understand a lot, yet one thing she may never understand is how her courage gave others courage, her fight made others fight, her joy made others joyful and her victory is a victory for anyone who ever wanted to quit.

Eniyahs victory will now radiate into her young life and through her into the world, young people like her emit the light, life, and love that many of us spend years trying to attain. Cancer as it were, never had a chance against Eniyah, because she is the victory and that among many other reasons is why she, is Black History, today!

Upendo!

-MLH


Black History Today: Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, creating space for brilliance

Black History Today: Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, creating space for brilliance

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Brayon Blake, a reflection of present greatness

Black History Today: Brayon Blake, a reflection of present greatness

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Jamal Crawford, superstar mentor and hometown hero

Black History Today: Jamal Crawford, superstar mentor and hometown hero

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Anita Koyier-Mwamba, brilliant mind and beautiful spirit

Black History Today: Anita Koyier-Mwamba, brilliant mind and beautiful spirit

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Kendrick Glover, a gem of a mentor creating change in South King County

Black History Today: Kendrick Glover, a gem of a mentor creating change in South King County

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: D’Vonne Pickett Jr., fearless dreamer at home in Seattle's South End

Black History Today: D’Vonne Pickett Jr., fearless dreamer at home in Seattle's South End

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Dawn Bennett, empowering educational activist

Black History Today: Dawn Bennett, empowering educational activist

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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